Hancock probate judge admits taking $64,000 from county (GA)

The day after resigning as Hancock County probate judge, Marva Rice admitted in federal court she stole nearly $64,000 in county funds, including $20,000 for her attorney fees.

Thursday morning in Macon, Rice pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

According to court documents, Rice failed to deposit nearly $44,000 in 2012.

A 2011 audit by Wright & Wright, P.C. showed cash was not being deposited in a timely manner. Public officials complained to the FBI, which launched an investigation.

The probe discovered significant amounts of cash missing from individual deposits.

In 2012, agents raiding the office found large sums of money as they seized computers and financial records.

On Thursday, Rice admitted she “intentionally misapplied and knowingly converted funds” totaling $43,864.70, court documents show.

The second count involves Rice taking county money to pay her lawyer.

Last year, Rice approached Hancock County Commission Chairwoman Sistie Hudson to ask permission to pay her attorney fees out of county funds.

Hudson conferred with the county attorney and verbally denied the request.

Days later, a check for $20,000 was drawn on the Hancock County Probate Court bank account, over which Rice had sole control.

The check was deposited into attorney Dwight Thomas’ account, documents show.

Rice admitted she “intentionally misapplied and intentionally converted” the funds for her private legal fees, according to court documents.

Hudson said Rice handed her a resignation letter Wednesday but declined to comment on the guilty plea.

Deputy Probate Judge Sabrina Lamar will take over as interim probate judge until a special election can be held, Hudson said.

Rice will be sentenced at a later date.

On each count, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to three years supervised release.

She also agreed to pay nearly $64,000 in restitution to the county.

Attribution:

Hancock probate judge admits taking $64,000 from county
Liz Fabian
October 23, 2014
The Telegraph
http://www.macon.com/2014/10/23/3380400_hancock-probate-judge-admits-taking.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

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